1. Every lawyer is responsible
for his/her own development.
2. You can’t just look where
everyone else is looking.
3. There are no small matters;
every matter is important to that
4. Be aggressive, not arrogant.
Fukumura in the early ‘80s jumping off high
cliffs in Hawaii, with childhood friends Bruce
and Mark Eliashof. “I’m an Oahu boy at heart,”
And this leads to Fukumura’s second
core principle: “You can’t just look where
everyone else is looking,” he says. “You
need to think outside the box, and to
do that you need to be rounded in your
As co-chair of the securities litigation
practice group at Cooley, which he joined
in 2002, Fukumura has helped build the
department into one of the strongest in the
country. According to Monitor Suite, Cooley
is one of two firms most often retained by
companies in securities litigation over the
past two years. His life is a whirlwind of
plane flights across the country.
In one case, Fukumura is representing
Peregrine Pharmaceuticals, which is
developing therapeutics to stimulate the
body’s immune system to fight cancer,
against a shareholder suit.
“He was always in control of the
situation,” says Mark Ziebell, general
counsel for Peregrine. “I don’t want to be
guessing what’s going on or constantly
having to check with my lawyer to know
what’s going on, because I have a board of
directors looking to me to tell them what’s
That brings up another of Fukumura’s
core principles: There are no small matters.
One of his cases underlines that concept
in the negative. Fukumura represented
a company against a former executive
who, upon leaving, hadn’t exercised his
stock options in the proscribed period.
He said he had relied upon advice from a
company representative that he alleged
to be incorrect. Fukumura filed a strong
motion for summary judgment, but the
judge denied the motion because of a
seemingly insignificant error: a rule at the
time required the separate statement to be
underlined, and it was not.
“It wasn’t fair, but it’s like a boxing
match,” Fukumura says. “If you don’t knock
someone out and leave it to the judges,
unfair decisions happen all the time.”
FUKUMURA, WHO WILL CHAIR THE
litigation section of the American Bar
Association beginning in August 2017,
remembers a case he handled early in his
career. It involved three doctors dissolving
their medical practice. The arbitration went
on for months, two to three days per week.
“In a deposition in that case, when there
was about 10 lawyers in the room, many
of whom were bickering, a lawyer I didn’t
know walked into the room and everyone
sat up straight and behaved,” Fukumura
says. “I wondered: What kind of person
do you have to be to walk into a room and
other lawyers behave because they don’t
want to disappoint you?”
He adds, “There are times in your career
when you meet certain people that have
an effect on others. Because of their
reputation, because of their command of
a situation, they can just take control of a
situation. My old mentor Chuck Dick, my
partners Steve Neal and Mike Rhodes and
Mike Attanasio, are those kinds of guys.
They have that gravitas. And certainly I
aspire to have that, too.”
Some colleagues feel he has succeeded.
“He doesn’t become distracted and
doesn’t lose his cool,” Robbins says.
“Some attorneys will be adversarial from
beginning to end and try to crush their
opponent. … He’ll be firm in his position,
but honest and straightforward in his
Fukumura still surfs occasionally, mostly
when he returns to Hawaii for an annual
visit. He and his wife have three kids
and none have expressed an interest in
following in his footsteps until recently. “In
the nick of time,” he writes, “my youngest,
9, told me yesterday that he wants to
be a lawyer because he wants to be a
person people call when they’re in trouble.
Completely unprompted statement on the
way home from basketball practice.”
“I am a shield for my client.”